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Integrated Circuit Topography

Region: Ontario Answer Number: 336

What is an integrated circuit topography?

Integrated circuit topographies are the three dimensional circuit designs that are used in many electrical and computerized products. Integrated circuit topographies are made of complex layers of semi-conductors, metals, insulators, and other materials. Some examples of products which incorporate integrated circuit topographies are computers, automobiles and robots.

Why register an integrated circuit topography?

Integrated circuit topographies must be registered with the Office of the Registrar of Topographies (part of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office) for the owner or creator to have legal ownership rights. By registering the design, the owner has the exclusive right to make, sell, import, lease or offer to sell or lease the topography or products incorporating the topography. If others infringe on these rights, the owner can ask the court to order them to stop and to pay compensation.

To qualify for legal protection, the design of a topography must be original. It must be the result of intellectual effort and not a copy of any other topography or design. Registration will legally protect the design but not the function of a topography.

If you plan to register an integrated circuit topography, you should also consider applying for a patent, because patent law will provide you with additional legal protection.

How to register an integrated circuit topography

You should consider contacting a patent lawyer or a registered patent agent for assistance if you plan to register an integrated circuit topography. This area of law and the registration process are both very complicated. There are four main steps in the registration process.

First, your lawyer or patent agent must fill out an application form. Second, they must prepare drawings or photographs of the design. Third, you must pay a registration fee. Fourth, the application form, the drawings or photographs, and the fee should be submitted to the Office of the Registrar of Topographies.

How long does registration last?

Applications for registration of an integrated circuit topography must be filed within two years of the first commercial offer to sell or lease the topography. Registration provides legal protection for up-to 10 years. The term of protection begins on the day your lawyer or patent agent files the application. The term of protection will end on December 31 of the tenth year after either the year the application was filed, or after the year the topography was first sold or leased.

Using the registered title

Integrated circuit products can be marked with the registered title to show that they are legally protected. Although the Integrated Circuit Topography Act does not require that topographies be marked with a registered title, it is a good idea to do so. If someone infringes your registered topography but the product is not marked with the registered title, the court could decide that they did not know of your registration and are not guilty of infringing your ownership rights.

Information and current government fees is also available from the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.

For legal assistance with registering and protecting an integrated circuit topography, or other intellectual property matters, contact our preferred lawyers and see who’s right for you: 

Bereskin & Parr

Gilbert's LLP






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